Hawkwatchers are not just hawk geeks. We tend to be nature geeks as well. If the hawks aren’t flying, we’ll look at any other birds that are around the hawkwatch. Most hawkwatchers are good birders, too. If the birds aren’t flying, we’ll look at animals or plants or clouds. Even on days with good flights of hawks, there are times when none are in the air.
One of the highlights was a Waggoner’s first, at least so far as any one there knew or could remember. A young red squirrel ran up the owl pole, stuck its head in the bottom of the decoy and then ambled down the pole, nearly running over someone’s feet and hanging out on a rock for a minute or two. The owl decoy is used to attract Sharp-shinned Hawks closer to the ridge. They are feisty little things and sometimes just have to swoop at the owl decoy, to the delight of all.
Other but more frequent visitors are the chipmunks. They are lured by one of the regular hawkwatchers who brings chestnuts or peanuts or something that chipmunks like and places the food on one of the few flat rocks on the outcropping. The chipmunks scamper through the rocks, used to people, chasing each other and filling up their cheeks until they look as though they have mumps.
Another visitor wasn’t a mammal, but was worth looking at, too. It is an eastern fence lizard, and it came out to sun itself for a while. I’m told three species of lizards are seen on the mountain, but this is the only one of those I’ve ever seen.
There’s always something to look at on a hawkwatch. It’s not always the hawks.